Original Article Post Date:
What's really driving the Middle East's sectarian divide?
by Max Fisher
The story, as told, usually goes something like this: 1,400 years ago, during the seventh century, there was a schism among Muslims over who would succeed as leader of the faithful, and that schism led to a civil war. The two sides became known as Sunni and Shia, and they hated one another, a people divided, ever since. This ancient sectarian hatred, simmering just beneath the surface for centuries, explains the Sunni-Shia violence today in places such as Syria and Iraq, as well as the worsening tension between Saudi Arabia, which is officially Sunni, and Iran, which is officially Shia.